Why Electives and After School Programs are Important . . .

When we are children, we are asked what we want to be when we grow up. Most kids tend to say doctor, lawyer, teacher, astronaut and etc. You might hear a few kids mention wanting to be a singer/rapper or professional athlete, but usually the first thing that comes to mind is doctor, lawyer or teacher. When we finally get to middle school, we’ve added more career choices to the list, but a lot of us are still a little clueless. Our vision somewhat expands by high school, but we are still not really prepared. We go off to college and choose a major of what we think will be best suited for us and a lot of us end up changing our major. There are some people who knows what they want and actually stick with it, but there are also a lot of people who stick with it out of fear. My thing is, how do we know what we really want if we don’t explore our interests.

In grade school, we mainly focused on English, Math, History, Science, and Health/PE. Once we have entered middle school, we get a small selection of electives to choose from (ex. choir, band, art, home-economics, foreign language, communications & etc). In high school the options expanded a little more and you get to narrow down on specifics. For example, instead of taking a home economics class that goes over a little bit of everything, there was classes that just focused on cooking, baking/catering, parenting, or sewing separately. Then business classes like marketing and personal finance are available, and even a couple social science electives. If you have enough free classes for electives, you get to dabble in other areas outside of the general core curriculum.

These classes are important because you get a little knowledge of that field. How do we pick a major when a lot of the time we are walking into a field with zero experience? My first major was accounting, and I didn’t know that it wasn’t for me until I actually took the class during the second semester. Some of the titles just sound ideal, that is until you actually take the class. I know college is all about experience and finding yourself, but if I would’ve known a little more about these fields beforehand maybe I wouldn’t have changed my major 7+ times.

So if you’re a high school student, try to fit in some electives that you think might interest you. Join some organizations and get some experience in different fields. At my old high school if you were in a business class you had a chance to join FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America). There were also a lot of other organizations connected to other fields. I would highly suggest that students explore their interests before college, when it’s actually free to do so. Changing my major all of those times was costly, and that’s why so many people stick to a field that they don’t like. They don’t want to put in the extra time and possibly add more to their debt. I know a lot of people who graduated in a field that they hate.

I wish high schools prepared us a little more for the future. I remember taking a personal finance class as an elective and it should’ve been a requirement. Instead of taking trigonometry or calculous during senior year, personal finance should’ve been the mandatory senior math class. They should’ve also had something that we had in middle school called interest block, but with an added focus on career fields. In interest block you change electives every nine weeks. Maybe a good interest block for high school seniors would be to pick 4 classes out of a list just to get a taste of different fields outside of the usual electives (Ex: Graphic Design, Bookkeeping, Entrepreneurship, Nutrition and Weight loss, Human Resource, Criminal Justice or Paralegal Studies). I could go on and on about this topic, but I’m going to wrap this up now.

To the Students, try your best to explore your interests in high school. If there isn’t a class or organization that interests you, try to volunteer in your desired field. To the Parents, be supportive and try to help your children gain some experience and help them find what they like before going off to college. Even after all the major changes I still ended up getting a degree in a field that I’m not interested in, which is why I went to grad school. Even after I got my master’s degree, I cannot say it was my ideal major. The kicker is, I just discovered what I really wanted to do a year ago, and it was actually something I would do on my own time during high school and during the breaks between college. It wasn’t something I took too seriously. It wasn’t something that I thought I could actually do. It wasn’t presented as an option. It wasn’t talked about like other careers. I thought I had to choose something practical or stable. I wish we had these discussions back then. I wish that we were pushed to focus a little more on what we truly wanted and what it all entails. I just hope this helps someone and essentially get the conversation rolling. 


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